OSHA Proposes $540,000 in Penalties for Ohio Auto Parts Manufacturer

An Ohio automotive parts manufacturer who failed to protect and train workers about hazards associated with mechanical power presses is facing proposed fines of $540,000.

The fines follow an accident in which an employee lost three fingers and suffered extensive upper body injuries.

"It is critical that employers protect their workers from occupational hazards," said U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. "The significant fines of $540,000 proposed in this case reflect the seriousness of the hazards found and our commitment to aggressively enforcing worker health and safety laws."

Plastech Exterior Systems Inc., an automotive stamping manufacturer in Newton Falls, Ohio, was cited for 16 safety and health violations, including seven alleged willful violations, for failure to secure in place the two-hand control stations of mechanical power presses.

"Management knew that workers operating mechanical power presses were exposed to serious hazards and yet they failed to take the action they knew was needed to eliminate those hazards," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Even after a worker suffered serious injuries, another employee was allowed to work on the very same machine-again without any efforts to abate the hazards-and that's unacceptable."

The citations are the result of an OSHA investigation that began April 8 in response to a complaint that an employee had suffered an amputation injury to his hand and serious injury to his arm while operating a mechanical power press. The investigation found the amputation happened on March 17.

OSHA assessed Plastech $490,000 in penalties for the seven willful citations. The company was also issued for five serious citations with penalties totaling $15,000, two repeat citations with a penalty of $35,000, and two other-than-serious citations with no monetary penalty.

Plastech has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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